Sent time:   Tuesday, October 18, 2011 4:44:53 PM
Subject:   SPAM-LOW: Re: Re: [september17discuss] Demands Discussion [was MoveOn Execs Now...]

Giant corporations are sitting on $trillions that should be putting people to work so that they can pay their bills.  I'm all for materializing a better system in the long run, but in the short run, people are losing their jobs and their houses and their savings.  We don't need to sacrifice the lives of millions to attain some future perfection.  As Doug has pointed out, getting stuff done doesn't have to kill a movement, it can also grow the movement.
On 10/18/11, David DeGraw<> wrote:
if we open w/ a demand pushing for "big government" we will be labeledand dismissed as by many people within the movement.  imo, this wouldbe a critical error.  as i understand it, a major uniting theme isbreaking up concentrated, oligarchic power, hence many are unifiedunder a banner of decentralized power.  with this in mind, it may bemore appealing to people if we pushed for community-based employmentprojects run outside of Federal / big government bureaucracy.

On 10/18/2011 10:44 AM, Snafu wrote:
I am changing the subject of this thread to split it from thediscussion on cooptation, otherwise it is too messy.

Andy, I am in total agreement. I think the positions on this listservare closer than we think. However, the Demands Committee met on Mondayand I think it agreed to pass as a first demand a "National JobsProgram with direct government employment." I had to leave at a certainpoint but it seems to me that this point has been approved, am I right?

Using similar arguments I have been using in this discussion, Iexplained why I disagreed with a neo-Keynesian approach. A demand ofthis kind has two major flaws imho:

1. It keeps laying the emphasis on labor and quantitative growth,downplaying the environmental crisis and the limitedness of naturalresources. Let's not forget that capitalism cannot grow without livinglabor so labor under capitalism is part of the problem (as much as ofthe solution).
2. It centralizes this growth by expanding the reach and power of thefederal government.

This means that internally this demand will meet the opposition of theenvironmental, anarchist, and libertarian wings of this movement.

Rearticulating a program of demands by rooting it in a strategic visionof a society built upon the commons-- a society concerned with "reproduction" and "repair" rather than growth and expansion--willallow us to keep many of these differences together.

It will take time to articulate this program in a realistic way, but Ithink it is worth giving it a try.

Love you all,

On 10/18/11 8:15 AM, acpollack2@juno.comwrote:
I think snafu's very crucial points can be made to fit aprogram of demands. 
While we certainly need many new jobs for much neededinfrastructure, what we need far more are more service jobs: teachers,childcare workers, homecare workers, paid maternity/paternity and carefor the elderly leave, etc., etc. Even -- or rather especially -- a newCivilian Conservation Corps to repair the environment. AND paidcultural workers.
Capitalism, because of its crisis of profitability, can't makea buck in making things. So the money got funneled into speculative(financial) investments. One reason it can't make a buck is we're TOOproductive: too many factories turning out too many things chasing thesame underpaid consumers. Ergo, crisis and trillions traded every dayat the punch of a button with no productive result.
But that's not our problem. We say, Jobs for ALL! And if youclaim you don't have the money, let us see your (electronic)accounting books. And WE'LL decide how to allocate that money to payfor the jobs listed above at union wages and benefits.
(Notice that nowhere in the above do I pander to the "end theFed" right-wing libertarian demagogy. Or the liberal "reviveGlass-Steagall" fantasy.)

---------- Original Message ----------
From: Doug Singsen <>
Subject: Re: [september17discuss] MoveOn Execs Now OfficialSpokespeople For OWS, According to MSM Execs
Date: Mon, 17 Oct 2011 20:58:23 -0400

I've said this before on this list, but it's an error to assume thatreforms act as brakes on movements. Often, reforms only increase themilitancy of movements. The passage of civil rights legislation in themid-sixties didn't lead to the demobilization of the civil rightsmovement. The legislation basically granted all of the reforms that themovement had previously demanded, but that didn't mean that it was overor out of steam. Instead, it actually escalated, transitioning into theBlack Power movement. When the demands of the civil rights movementwere met, the movement didn't stop, it just led to the realization thatthe needs the movement was trying to address actually went much deeperthan just formal legal equality, but actually encompassed materialinequality and structural racism and power relations, which themovement then went on to challenge.

In Egypt, Mubarak and then the army repeatedly made concessions to themovement, but that did not stop it from continuing either. (It's stillvery much ongoing, although you wouldn't know it from the MSM.) WhenFDR passed the Wagner Act, that didn't calm the labor movement down, itset off a massive wave of strikes, occupations and insurrections. Andso on and so on.

A lot of people at OWS have said that we shouldn't have demands becauseif they grant our demands, we won't be able to continue the movement.This has always struck me as incredibly silly. Demands are not set instone. There is no rule that says that you can only come up withdemands once, and that you can never raise more demands later. That'snot how movements work and never has been.


On Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 4:05 PM, Snafu <>wrote:
Right, but I do not want to have a new New Deal. Evenadmitting that this would be feasible nowadays, in the 1930s they didnot face the massive ecological crisis we are facing today. If we keeplaying the emphasis on creating "good jobs" or sustainable capitalismwe keep missing the point--i.e. that capitalism proved to be anunsustainable system and it will make human life impossible on thisplanet in the matter of few decades. *Capitalism is the crisis* so itis time to take the bull by the horns, rather than trying to patch itup once again.

Shaista, you ask, what is to be done. My suggestion is why don't webegin to think of water, food, energy, health care, education, thecommunication infrastructure, and transportation as commons? Thecommons is a *limited* resource that can be managed beginning from thelocal level according to rules that have to be determined by thecommunity of its users. It takes nature and creative production asdeparture points (rather than just the latter) and moves from there allthe way up.

If we assume that water is a commons, the question is why is itprivatized? And what is to be done so as to make it common again? Thesame could be asked of education and health care.

In this context demands acquire a tactical significance. We demand toreinstate Glass-Steagall to demonstrate that they cannot reinstate itwithout bankrupting the banks that are gambling our money on the stockmarket. We demand a living wage or a universal income (rather than anational jobs program) to make the case that everyone has a right tohave a decent life regardless of his/her productivity. Once you begintaking care of these common resources from below, labor acquires a newsignificance, it becomes an activity that is detached from the wage andbecomes attached to tasks that are socially necessary in order toreproduce society and the commons.

On 10/17/11 3:24 PM, Doug Singsen wrote:
I basically agree with Aaron's formulation, exceptthat I would add that financial power and state power are bothstructures of capitalist power. They are not two rival forces, they areheavily coordinated with each other and serve the same ultimate ends,yet at the same time there is a nominal and structural separationbetween the two. Finance capital is the dominant form of capital today,but that does not mean that states are irrelevant. States perform allkinds of functions (military, economic, social, political) that financecapital and capital as a whole do not and can not perform directly andwhich they desperately need, now more than ever. States may not be ableto contain the economic crisis, but neither can any other power center,including finance capital. This crisis escaped anyone's control fromthe moment it began. The appearance of control was restored for a fewyears, but the crisis was just festering under the surface until itexploded again.

While the state ultimately serves the interests of capital, whicheffectively means the interests of finance capital since that is thestrongest sector of capital today, in order for the state to performits functions in the service of capital, it must maintain both theillusion of autonomy (which is now cracking) and at least a smallsliver of real autonomy. If the state were seen to be totally in theservice of capital, if it was seen as having absolutely no possibilityof reform or action outside of finance capital, it would no longer beable to pacify people and keep them plugged into the system. Thatillusion is beginning to break down today, but we are still at the verybeginning of that process. Most people still believe the state iscapable of granting reforms in the interests of the majority of people.And there is actually some truth to this. In periods of extreme socialupheaval, the state can act to rein in the most egregious forms ofcapitalist exploitation, in order to prevent even further upheavalsfrom occurring. In fact, this is how all major reforms under capitalismhappen. This is how we got the New Deal and civil rights forAfrican-Americans. This is one of the state's key functions, and itrequires that states be able to separate their interests at leasttemporarily from their capitalist masters.


On Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 10:44 AM,Aaron Gemmill <>wrote:
in general i don't think you can peg one as subordinateto the other (tho i don't know of any banks with aircraft carriers).financial power is an instrument of state power and vice versa.�;

On Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 10:27 AM, Snafu <>wrote:
Doug, on the question of national debt and economicgrowth, state power is clearly subordinated to financial power. It isthe markets that decide whether it is safe to invest in state bonds orin any other financial asset in a given country. National governmentsand central banks have now the primary function of reassuring themarkets by slashing the debt, propping up the banks (which increases inturn the debt exposure) or through quantitative easing. The mass ofcirculating financial assets is roughly 10 fold the global GDP. In2010, the US GDP was estimated at $14.7 trillions whereas US financialassets at $131 trillions. It is financial capital that leads the gameand it should be the primary target of this movement. You are right,Standard&Poor is a corporation. But it expresses the "collectiveinterests" of financial capital, which needs to have arbiters that(pretend) to set the rules of the game. In this respect, it is a newform of sovereign power. The downgrading of the US debt was the firsttime in history in which you saw an entire political class having tojustify itself before a financial institution.

(The alter-globalization movement did not ebb in Europe and othercountries right after September 11, but much later--i.e. around 2005,when activists begun getting tired of chasing G8 summits. The EuropeanSocial Forum in Florence was attended by 1 million people in 2003).

On 10/16/11 10:47 PM, Doug Singsen wrote:
But rating agencies and all the other playersin the financial industry are themselves corporations, so they are partof the system that is described under the rubric of "corporate power."And I don't think that states are irrelevant or powerless at all. Thatargument was a mainstay of the global justice movement of the latenineties, but 9/11 and the events that followed blew that argument tobits, along with the global justice movement itself, which was notprepared to deal with either the massive wave of reactionary patriotismor the aggression of a suped-up, militarized US state. At a time whenthe US is occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, holding "terrorists" with nolegal rights in Guantanamo Bay, bombing targets in Pakistan, trying toinstall a puppet regime in Libya, and green-lighting repression inBahrain and Saudi Arabia, state power seems far from irrelevant.


On Sun, Oct 16, 2011 at 10:20PM, Snafu <>wrote:
Youare right Doug, and I thank you for this observation. It was not myintention inserting any reference to the obsolescence of past strugglein the declaration. I was just noting that most statements produced andapproved by the GA so far are focusing on either corporate power or(now) the two-party system, whereas none of the two are to me thehegemonic forces in contemporary capitalism.

�Financial capitalism is a tough beast to fight because it is at thesame time abstract and diffused at a molecular level. Yet ifStandard&Poor's downgrading of the US debt has such massiveeffects, it means that we have entered a new phase, one in which thepower of rating agencies stands above that of national governments.Hence my hesitation on supporting statements that keep focusing on thetraditional enemies and seem to be oblivious to the new forms ofsovereignty that are emerging. The more you claim that the state isuseless and powerless the more you will have to confront financialpower directly. But who will regulate the stock market as the systemkeeps melting, the GA?

On 10/16/11 7:08 PM, Doug Singsen wrote:
It'snot true that market volatility is mainly the result of the automationof financial transactions. Markets were highly volatile long beforeautomation. The biggest financial collapse in history took place beforethe invention of the microchip. Rather, market volatility is aninherent part of capitalism. We also need to beware of declarationsthat all previous resistance is obsolete and that we need to invent newtools from scratch. The lessons of past struggles are still very muchrelevant today, and ignoring them is a quick recipe for repeating theirerrors today.